A Time to Sing

by the Rev. Peter Jenks


The realization that we will not be able to sing together because of the current pandemic has been a difficult reality to face. Singing together is a sacred act. As part of Christian worship, hymn and praise singing is an immensely powerful and direct way to align one’s life to the Divine.

When I stand in the middle of my small church and it is filled with people all singing together a well-known hymn, it is an extraordinary and transformative moment of grace. Especially because it is a live event, and that everyone is not professional singers, but friends, family, and neighbors. Opening ourselves up to take a chance and share our voice, and finding it joined by others who are doing the same is a deeply bonding moment.

I have been asked, encouraged, and paid not to sing. I am not a natural musician in any way. But with the help of Dr. Antolini, the music director with whom I work, I have discovered that talent isn’t the most important part of singing, it is the courage to try, the willingness to make mistakes, and to share from my heart, that opens the door to discover such awe.  Having grandchildren, who occasionally have had trouble going to sleep, has also helped me to be bolder in my efforts. Being the only one in the house and a crying child in my arms I have found deep peace to help to maintain my patience and an ability to actually discover my voice with an audience that really doesn’t judge me too harshly.

The scientific studies that show how singing also spreads the aerosol vapors that can spread the COVID-19 virus is hard news to absorb.  Oddly, I am not surprised that something so wonderful and powerful also carries with it the power to bring harm.  But it has put up a giant roadblock in my ongoing relationship with God.  This is not a bad, nor good thing, simply a new challenge which I never thought I would ever have to face.

This challenge has reminded me of just how important singing together is, and how when we can do it again, not to ever take for granted.  It has also revealed to me that I have relied heavily on other voices to carry me along through a song. Now, it is time for me to hold onto my voice and sing alone.  It is time to learn the verses to songs to which I mostly only know the refrain. The challenge of this pandemic has silenced a trusted support network and turned the focus onto me. The time for a solo before God seems to have arrived.

The need to connect with God, the powers, and mysteries beyond my understanding, remains.  Singing can open me to such an encounter with the holy. Singing is also the last thread, sometimes, when I find myself slipping into a depressed state or when I am finding my hope diminishing.  Even if it is humming a tune or whistling as I walk down the street, it is a start and a spark of hope that can keep my light burning.

The old song, “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine”, is a great banner for our time.  We let our light emerge as we sing. We are still here, we are alive, and we will do not need to be silenced by the threat and danger of any virus.  But this time now is a time when the choirs have stopped, and our solos are needed; and the songs are no longer restricted to the churches and concert halls, but rather spread throughout our communities, in our gardens, our homes, and streets.

If you appreciated reading this news story and want to support local journalism, consider subscribing today.
Call (207) 594-4401 or join online at knox.villagesoup.com/join.
Donate directly to keeping quality journalism alive at knox.villagesoup.com/donate.
Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.